Is 2011 the year in which you want to get your children to eat more healthily?
With the New Year upon us we are sure that you will all be making some sort of New Year’s resolutions. They might be about losing weight, being a better parent or eating more healthily.
However, it is not likely that our children will be thinking about how to eat more healthily. So it’s down to us, as parents, to make that resolution for them. But, we also know that with the fervour of a new year, we can often be unrealistic about what changes we can make and the timeframe in which our goals can be achieved. As adults we all know that many drastic New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside by the end of January because they were simply unrealistic in the first place. They are even harder to keep when other people are involved.
Each household has its own unique dynamics in terms of work patterns, outside activities and eating habits. As such general advice about how to lead a healthier life is all well and good but it may not seem relevant or achievable in the context of your own family. We believe that if you want to change things in a family you need to take stock of where you are starting from, how committed you are to change and how much support or resistance you are likely to encounter. If you don’t take these individual factors into account at the start you are setting yourself up for failure.
No one said that getting children to eat healthily was easy. There are so many pressures out there which encourage unhealthy eating behaviour such as advertising, peer pressure, the drive for convenience and speed. No one wants to go head to head with their child on a meal by meal by meal basis. But the more you care about what your child eats, the more emotional the food issue can become. Some children can and do exploit this emotional dimension – either consciously or sub-consciously to exert influence and control in the home. They seem to know all the buttons to press to get you to react to what they are or are not eating. Food is so central to our lives and to our desire to nurture our family that it is bound to cause you anxiety if your child refuses to eat or will only eat a limited number of foods. There is often frustration if you have lovingly prepared a healthy meal from scratch only to see a turned up nose before the fork has left the plate. You would have to be pretty stoic not to take that as a personal rejection.
We have developed a workshop which helps you to focus on the specific food issues in your household and in particular for your children. We do not judge where you are starting from and we aim to support you to identify which changes will make the biggest difference to your child’s health and relationship with food. Setting realistic aims is an important first step – you can’t expect to change habits overnight if they have developed over years. We then suggest strategies you can try in order to help you to achieve your aims. It’s all about making sure you have the right resources to help you, such as short cut solutions to making healthy food; easy and child friendly recipes; star charts to reinforce and reward healthy eating; knowledge of how to make sense of labels and which convenience foods are better than others.
Lots of mums feed back to us that they do feel like a voice in the wilderness when it comes to getting the family to eat well. So it is important to enlist the support of other family members and to try to make the experience enjoyable. There is a lot of truth in the old adage that “the family that eats together, stays together”. If meal times are about more than just the food they can become another opportunity to communicate with your child and enjoy their company.
To find out more:
Recipe for Health are delivering another Healthy Eating workshop – Thursday 27th January 10-1pm – don’t miss out.
10/01/2011 No Comments
We are now well into January. The Christmas tree has been taken down, life is slowly getting back to normal and I’m feeling that this has been one of the best Christmas holidays ever! And, it’s not over yet! Just over 3 weeks into the holidays, and I’m getting a bit sad that my daughter will soon be heading back to school. As I think back to December 15th, I remember almost feeling a sense of dread that the holiday would be so long! Now, though as she is heading up to 8, she is a total joy to spend time with, and I have had a really great time playing, baking, reading, drawing … all the things that she loves to do. It was really a holiday where – inspired by the Diane Loomans poem, I decided to ‘stop playing serious, and seriously play’.
The holidays started with a magical blizzard, that left many people here in London stranded, unable to get their planned flights either out to see family, or heading somewhere warm. We were already planning on staying in London, as my Mum was coming to visit, so we could really enjoy the snow. During the weekend of the big blizzard, we were all out in the park building snowmen and had a great time throwing snowballs and making snow angels. Sadly for all those who were trying to reschedule flights, they didn’t necessarily see the fun side of the weather.
The snowy days brought to mind a Maya Angelou quote: You can tell a lot about a person about how they manage these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. I would add to that, a dumping of snow while you’re stuck on an airplane on the runway at Heathrow not knowing whether you’re going to take off on that lovely trip – and with small children who are getting increasingly tired, hungry and bored. You can prepare all you like, but things can still go awry.
What can help you in those unpredictable moments is the ability to stay calm – almost surrendering to the fact that there is very little you can do to change the situation. About the only thing you have any control over is how you are going to approach it! You can go down many different routes: the complaining route (‘these airlines …’ ); the victim route (‘why does this have to happen to me?’); the practical route (attempting to make new travel arrangements); or the ‘let’s make this fun anyway’ route! Choosing to not get swept away by feelings of frustration and sadness about possibly missing out on your vacation, and actually choosing a more positive approach works on so many levels. First, there is the obvious benefit of having happier children. There is also the added bonus that your children are learning a great lesson about how to deal with situations when things don’t go swimmingly. If you’re able to stay calm and creatively deal with the challenges, you’re giving your children an amazing lesson in how to deal with the challenges that life will throw at them.
So now that the parks are green again, the Christmas cookies have all been eaten and the decorations put away for another year, I’ve decided to take on a renewed commitment to stay calm when life gets crazy, and to always remember to take time to seriously play! Happy New Year!
10/01/2011 No Comments
Have you committed to all those unrealistic New Year resolutions yet? Off to the gym 4 times a week in a burst to lose those excess festive pounds? Of course we all know that it’s a good idea to try to incorporate exercise into our daily routines as it’s more likely to get done that way and walking to school with your kids is ingraining in them some important values about exercise and fresh air I want to give walking a plug for two other equally important reasons. It’s good for your mental and emotional health and it’s really good at stimulating communication with your children.
At this time of year in the Northern hemisphere we need to wrap up warmer to beat the Nordic conditions and may feel slightly resistant to get outside (I hope I’m not the only wimp who feels that way) so I may need to make an awfully strong case for walking other than to the kettle in your kitchen. I’m advocating a therapeutic tool which is infinitely variable, completely free and offers side benefits in terms of physical health as well. I’m proposing a tool that can bring parents and children (and couples) closer together without any expert intervention or having to read any heavy tomes. This miracle solution helps unblock your mind when problem saturated, it helps you to see things more clearly, helps you gain perspective and a more positive outlook and it is an aid to developing important communication skills in your children. Anyway someone once said there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.
On what basis do I make these fulsome claims? Well more learned (and certainly more famous) writers than I have cogitated upon this before. Nietzsche wrote that “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking” and he had some good thoughts. Henry Thoreau also apparently liked to amble as he said “Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” I’ve also had some good thoughts whilst in the shower or just as I’m about to go to sleep (those ones lost to oblivion unless I write them down there and then) but I have also had the experience that when something is troubling me I need to move. When I was studying at university I used to walk around the room with my notes in my hand. Some of us are quite kinaesthetic learners, meaning we learn best while moving. Try getting your child to move when doing any rote learning like spellings or tables or even more complicated thought processes.
Apart from the benefits of oxygen to the brain I think it’s just the repetitive movement of putting one foot in front of the other that helps stimulate the brain as well as getting away from the distracting environment of our homes. In any case, when my husband and I have a problem we find we need to leave the house (also our working environment) and walk to find a solution. When I’m upset or angry I find walking at a frenetic pace helps but if I’m sad or just thinking a more laconic amble works –my dogs are getting very sensitive to my moods! A good breeze can only assist in the head clearing process. Encourage and model walking for your kids as an effective emotional release.
I promised another great result from walking with your kids –communication. Learned psychologist and parenting author Steve Biddulph talks about the need for ‘sideways’ talk with boys and I would agree that boys especially, but not exclusively, prefer a style of communication which involves doing some activity alongside them rather than an eyeball to eyeball Deep and Meaningful. I find my boys open up more when we’re out walking than at any other time. We may talk about things that are troubling them or just things that interest them. My youngest has long conversations with my husband about history and politics and it gives me great pleasure to watch his stride outstripping his father’s as they chat about their shared interests.
When you walk and talk you have an opportunity to use a technique to build rapport which in Neuro Lingustic Programming is called ‘mirroring’. At its simplest level this merely involves matching your stride to the other person’s. As you get more expert you may swing your arms in rhythm, match head movements and ultimately synchronise your breathing to the other person’s –then you are in accord, even though the content of your conversation may involve disagreement.
So enjoy the great outdoors and absorb all the therapeutic, creative and communication benefits as well as noticing the details of the change of season and burning a few calories!
05/01/2011 No Comments
On the final night of the X-Factor last weekend, what struck me most was the tears of pride of the winner’s father as he said to his son “We always knew you could do it”.
Whatever you may think about Matt Cardle, his parents have always believed in him…. What an amazing feeling that belief must be ,and it’s taken him a long way and his gratitude to his parents was evident.
We all believe our children are wonderful – most of the time, anyway!
But do we always get that message across to them? Do they believe that we believe in them?
From day-to-day activities to ambitions for the future, children often hear “No, not like that” or “I don’t think that’s going to work”.
Of course, as parents we have to juggle many roles – safety officer, construction instructor, fashion advisor, chief banker, chauffeur and Head Chef – but it is all too easy to fall into the negative trap of pointing out what they do wrong, rather than focussing on what they do right, or looking at the end product, rather than the effort and attitude that created it.
Anyone who has come to our class on Descriptive Praise will know how we can avoid this – and nurture and develop our children’s self-esteem and their growing understanding of who they are.
But knowing you are believed in, is more than simply growing up in a positive atmosphere.
Knowing others believe in you is how you learn to believe in yourself.
This knowledge is what makes it possible to try new things, and get involved in life and develop the passions and hobbies that ultimately form part of your identity.
As parents we naturally move to protect our children from disappointment. But, over time, real life will affect and shape their future and rather than crush emerging hopes and ambitions, we need to empower them to cope with real life.
Real life has already taught my elder son that he will never work with the Fat Controller on the Island of Sodor. And my younger son has quietly moved on from his assertion that he would, one day, become a penguin. They never needed me to tell them it wasn’t going to happen. And they certainly don’t hold it against me that I let reality dawn and didn’t shatter their dreams.
The penguin theme remains strong in our house, but now, my younger son is throwing his energy into science because he hopes to travel to Antarctica to build a new ice-floe for the threatened Gentoo species. And my older son is planning to fly across the Channel in a pedal-powered airplane with a group of other 10-year olds.
The problem with the latter, is that it’s turned out to be a real-life project being run in Spring 2011 by real-life aeronautical engineers . Good thing I didn’t dismiss it and him when he first told me about it! Because now when they safely land on the French coast, I can say to him “I always knew you had great innovative ideas” and he will believe me.
17/12/2010 No Comments
What kind of so-called parenting experts say don’t call your child clever? Since the sixties haven’t we been exhorted to extol the virtues of our children ad nauseam in the hope of building self esteem and encouraging desirable behaviours? When we want them to feel good about themselves we say well done darling, good girl. And if we think they’re not buying it or we really want to big them up we say ‘fantastic, marvellous, brilliant –you are so clever.’ What’s wrong with that?
Well, usually we say to parents that if they want their kids to have good self esteem and all the positive outcomes that go with that then we need to focus on what children do right more often than what they get wrong. Every parent knows this even though we sometimes have difficulty doing it –like when you’re trying to get them all out of the house and one is on a ‘go slow’ and the other two are complaining that they have to breathe the same air and you can’t find your car keys and NOBODY has got their shoes on!
But even when things are a little calmer we still feel an overwhelming urge to point out what’s wrong with what they’re doing. We’re not bad people but we’ve had decades of conditioning so forgive us if we mistakenly believe we need to highlight what they’ve done wrong in order to help them learn. In fact when we do that the children are apt to tune us out and lose their natural motivation to improve and to learn. So yes we do need to focus on the positives and praise our children. In fact the ratio of positive to ‘improving’ should be about 9:1. John Gottman is a researcher who did a lot of work in the area of couples’ relationships. He found that there are a number of criticisms compared to praises beyond which a marriage crumbles, and that number is one (1) criticism to five (5) praises. That’s right. The minimum to keep a marriage off the rocks is 1 bad:5 good. While you’re trying to remember when you last said something positive to your partner I would add that in the case of children parents should be praising even more frequently because we are actively trying to shape our children’s behaviour and form their characters. I would assert therefore that we parents should give 9 praises for every criticism/improving comment/correction / just pointing out what could be done differently.
So I’m clearly in favour of praise. But why can’t I tell my child he’s clever? Because he is you know –or at least I want him to do well. How can it hurt? In the past I would have said that any praise was better than none. But even then I would have admitted that there’s a good chance your child is not going to believe you when you say he’s clever so your words lose impact. We have always advocated using praise which is specific and descriptive to make it more credible and give the child enough information to allow them to repeat the positive behaviour on which you’re focusing. We would have said ‘clever girl’ isn’t a very effective form of praise but not actually harmful. And then I discovered some research by a psychologist in the US, Carol Dweck, that has made me even more careful about my choice of words when acknowledging children. Her research has shown that evaluative praise of this kind can actually be detrimental.
Professor Dweck’s findings show that the way adults praise children can determine whether they develop what she calls a ‘growth mindset’ or a ‘fixed mindset’. Her research was looking at motivation and perseverance in the face of set backs. Why do some people give up in the face of failure and others try again –it has to do, not surprisingly, with their beliefs about why they had failed. If you believe you failed because of lack of ability you are more inclined to give up than if you think the failure was down to lack of effort. Surely that’s an argument for telling kids they are able in order to motivate them?
Over the years Dweck developed a theory that learners could be classified as helpless vs mastery oriented. The former believe that intelligence is a fixed trait: you have only a certain amount, and that’s that. “I call this a ‘fixed mind-set’. Mistakes crack their self-confidence because they attribute errors to a lack of ability, which they feel powerless to change. They avoid challenges because challenges make mistakes more likely and looking smart less so….The mastery-oriented children, on the other hand, think intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work. They want to learn above all else.… Because slipups stem from a lack of effort, not ability, they can be remedied by more effort.”
So how does praise affect this belief system? Contrary to adults’ good intentions when they praise, telling someone they are smart or clever actually contributes to the ‘fixed mindset’ whereas praising a child for trying hard or persevering focuses on the effort they’re making and allows them to develop a ‘growth mindset’. Dweck’s work with children in schools showed that confronted by a setback such as a disappointing test grade, students with a growth mind-set said they would study harder or try a different strategy for mastering the material. The students who held a fixed mind-set, however, were concerned about looking smart with little real regard for learning. They had negative views of effort, believing that having to work hard at something was a sign of low ability. They thought that a person with talent or intelligence did not need to work hard to do well. Attributing a bad grade to their own lack of ability, those with a fixed mind-set said that they would study less in the future, try never to take that subject again and consider cheating on future tests.
So how do we encourage a ‘growth mindset’ in our children? Show them examples of effort producing good results in your own modelling, in stories about other people but above all in their own endeavours. Praise them for not giving up, for trying a different strategy in the face of defeat, for working hard and practising, for improving and don’t focus so much on the outcome or achievement. If they do well in a test say “You must be really pleased -that’s a reflection of all the hard work you put in”. Above all never ever praise your child for being clever.
23/11/2010 No Comments
80% of parenting is modelling. It’s a really scary thought for most parents that eighty per cent of the teaching we do, eighty percent of the learning our children get in the family, most of what they imbibe and take on as values comes from them watching what we model and copying us! There may be a handful of parents who are relaxed about this having a clean conscience about their language, their attitudes, their manners and other behaviours. But for many of us this is a really pressurising idea. Especially if you consider all the possible areas our children may be subconsciously absorbing values that we didn’t intend to pass on to them.
When my children were little I despaired of them ever learning what I regarded as ‘nice’ table manners because I thought my husband, not me, was such a poor role model in this area. (Lovely as he was and is in many other ways.) But there were so many other areas where I wasn’t remotely aware that I was modelling behaviours. For example what attitudes do we model? When something is hard do we give up? I know if I have an IT issue or I reach the tiniest obstacle with something electronic I’ll wait till my husband can deal with it. (I told you he was nice). What am I teaching my kids – that there are areas that are completely beyond my expertise and I’m not going to try to improve but instead I’ll avoid dealing with those issues?
Still on the subject of attitudes what do you do when you get a parking ticket? (A very common occurrence in Wandsworth where I live.) Do you berate yourself for being such a fool for not putting enough money in the parking meter; do you say Daddy will be so cross that’s the third one this month; do you say don’t tell Daddy? If so what are we modelling for our children about dealing with mistakes? Are we teaching them that mistakes diminish us rather than being an opportunity for learning and should be covered up?
What about language? Have you ever heard your child on the phone sounding exactly like you? When I rang my five year old nephew recently he was very chatty and said “and how’s the family” in tones that sounded just like his mother! These are the positives of course. But how many of us emit an expletive or two in the hearing of our children and then get cross with them for doing the same? How do we handle our feelings? When I’m sad do I mooch around with a hang dog expression listlessly, sighing and finding it hard to get on with life. When I’m angry do I put others down or criticise or resort to sarcasm? What do I do when my self esteem is low? Do I do something to boost it or give up and withdraw? When I’m fed up with my kids do I tell them how rotten they are? If my children are fighting with each other do I smack the one I see as the perpetrator? What does smacking model? Is it telling my children that when they’re adults they too will be able to use their power to hurt but they’re not allowed to hit their brother now? When someone has upset me do I speak rationally to the person concerned or do I bottle up my feelings or explode? Do they see you resolving conflict well? Do they know you’ve made up with your partner after a fight and do they learn how you resolved things?
If you’re feeling a bit sick by now keep reading as it gets better.
If I want my children to develop good social skills what am I modelling around that? Do we all eat together at the table having conversations? Do they see me with my friends? Do they hear me talking positively about friends and family or do they get a litany of complaints? How you talk about your parents is how they’ll talk about you in adulthood!
What about lifestyle? We all know how important it is to encourage our children to eat well and take exercise and get enough sleep but what do they see us doing in these areas? Is your breakfast a cup of strong coffee and do they hear that you were up half the night? Do you exercise with your kids or on your own where there don’t see it? How do you talk to your kids about your own body shape and that of others? Do you moan about your own ‘deficiencies’ or make fun of others?
Do your kids ever see you reading? Do you discuss the contents of your book with them?
And what about the things that will affect them in the future? What do they see your work/life balance as?
I said it would get better. The good news is that as soon as our awareness is raised about these issues we’ve already taken a step forward. We start to think about what we do in front of the children. One of the most useful aspects of the parenting course I took 13 years ago was spending time each week working out what values I wanted to pass on to my children. At The Parent Practice we focus on this a lot.
Sometimes it’s just a case of making our children aware of the good things we’re doing that we want them to learn from such as kindnesses that we wouldn’t normally broadcast but we need to articulate to our children so that they can learn from it. When playing games with children we recommend you articulate your thought processes like this: oh no I’ve drawn a bad card! Never mind. I won’t make a fuss. Maybe I’ll get a good one next hand. Yes you will feel like a dork but your children are learning good lessons from this.
Sometimes of course it means curbing our bad habits or at least being conscious of not parading them in front of the children. Knowing the following facts about smoking (along with all the other ones you already know) may give you a bit extra incentive to give up. Children of parents who smoke:
- Are twice as likely to take up smoking.
- Assume that cigarette smoking is an acceptable way to handle stress and boredom. They see you do it all the time.
- Develop a positive attitude toward smoking.
- Are more tolerant of the unpleasant effects of cigarette smoke, such as odours, stained teeth and small burns on the carpet and furniture.
Once we’re aware of the influence we have we can consciously set out to influence our children. Michael Grinder, communications expert, says “The power of influence is greater than the influence of power”. Sometimes our children are not copying the things we’d like them to. And for that there is the other 20% of parenting – we need some positive and effective parenting tools like using rules constructively, setting things up so that our children are likely to behave well, motivating them to do the right thing, understanding the causes of behaviour and responding effectively when they don’t. Sometimes it doesn’t seem as if our children are learning anything in the moment but it may be years later that your children show they have taken on your values. For the record my kids’ table manners are fine now.
11/11/2010 3 Comments
By Ann Magalhaes
By last Autumn almost (or so it seemed!) all the children in my daughter’s class had their own Nintendo DS game. I had managed to get through the term without buying one, but by the time the holidays started, she was asking for one. At the same time, at school, she was really struggling with Maths and was really starting to lose her confidence.
The Head Teacher at her school awards a special sticker for good work and extra effort, and my daughter was convinced that she would never receive one for her Maths work. One day, we had a lovely conversation about belief, and if she didn’t believe she could receive one of these stickers, then she probably wouldn’t. Then we talked about what would happen if she did believe she could earn one. We talked about how believing something wasn’t going to be enough to make it happen. She knew that belief would need to be combined with some extra work if she were to stand a chance of earning the sticker. Now, before you think that I’m a pushy Mom, I have to say that I’m not! My daughter really wanted to earn the sticker, and I decided that as it was Christmas, I would present the extra incentive and get her to earn the DS!
Over the Christmas holidays, she worked every day on Maths – never more than 20 minutes a day – and I could see her ability increasing with each question she worked through. Sometimes she played math games on the computer, sometimes we made up times tables games using marbles, and we made up fun shopping games to learn more about money. She knew that if she received the sticker, she would earn the DS. This was motivating for her!
The second day back at school, I was waiting for her at the school gates. A little boy in her class bounded down the stairs and shouted, “S gets a DS now!” And then, I saw my daughter bounding down the same steps with such a proud smile with a gleaming golden sticker stuck onto her cardigan!! She had done it!!
Now it was my turn to fulfill my end of the deal and buy the DS! It arrived in the post by the end of the week, and together we sat down to establish some ground rules for playing with it. I’m not a huge proponent of excess screen time, so I wanted to make sure she had a clear set of rules, that would be created by her. We did this by having a conversation about how and when she would use the DS. She wrote a list of 10 rules, that I then posted in the living room for her to refer to if need be. Her rules included things like “I will only play with my Nintendo after homework; I will …
We were able to sit down and have a great conversation that left her knowing what was expected of her. Her list wasn’t a list of DON’Ts. Her list gave her the knowledge of what she was supposed to do in order to keep playing with her DSi. The amazing thing is that in the more than one year since buying the DSi, I have never (I’m serious!) NEVER had to take away her DS privileges. The rules tell her what to do! The rules are the ‘tough guy’! She can’t get upset with me because she made up the rules, and she is very aware that the reward for following them is DS time, and the consequence for not following them … you guessed it … missing out on DS time!
A year on, the DS doesn’t come out of the case very often now. The newest gadget in our home is the iPad … and for kids (of all ages!) … it IS incredible. We read the latest National Geographic magazines, watch movies, create art, email said art to Grandparents, play maths and spelling games. I love it just as much as she does.
I have been most blown away, though, by my daughter’s ability to transfer the rules that she established for the DS onto the iPad. We never even had a conversation about it. She just knows that she can’t use it until homework is finished, and that she can use it for 20 minutes during the week, and for as long as she likes on those long airplane rides!
Clear, positive rules with related rewards and consequences work, and my new discovery was that they are very easily transferrable! Great rules are NOT designed to tell your children what NOT to do. Rather, they are about empowering your children so THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO, so that ultimately they develop effective habits.
Want to learn more? Come to our latest wokshop on Children’s use of TV;electronic games and internet:keeping them safe and healthy
31/10/2010 1 Comment
By Elaine Halligan
As a parent of children in the 21st century you have, I am sure, many fears – maybe worrying about keeping our children safe outside the home? Maybe you have the perception that your child is in danger due to the news stories about child killings and paedophilia. The reality is however that with the introduction of new technologies and social networking sites the risks are possible as great inside our homes as well. “There are places your kids shouldn’t be hanging out in. Dark alleys. Street corners. Websites.” reports J.Kaplan from Fox News last week.
How well versed are you in the use of Facebook; MSN messaging; SMS and Twitter to name just a few? Our role as parents is to educate and we can only do that when we are knowledgeable about the risks involved. Cyber bullying is a real risk and the impact can be devastating, not just for the victim but also for the perpetrator. There are a growing number of girls and boys ( but particularly girls) as early as Year 5 and Year 6 setting up social networking accounts. Are you aware of what your children are doing?
Take a look at some interesting facts:
- FACEBOOK - It’s against the terms of service for under 13’s to be on Facebook and young kids online interacting with older kids places them at risk for content exposure inappropriate for their age. If your child is under 13 and on FACEBOOK they will have lied about their age. So what? Our children learn about values through us, so if one of your values is that you want to trust your child and expect him to tell you the truth, this suddenly becomes an important area. Be a good role model for your kids.
- CLUB PENGUIN – reported by CEOP (Child Exploitation Operation) to be the most notorious site for paedophilia– who would have imagined that 5/6 year olds innocently playing games in igloos dressed as fairies may be interacting with predatory adults?
- DIGITAL IMPRINT – any photos, comments and content published on a social networking page can be read and copied by other users. If you post something offensive and subsequently delete, the imprint is still there and the chances are someone somewhere will have read and even copied to others.
- FURTHER EDUCATION Currently two thirds of UK employment agencies and many University admissions offices trawl social networking sites as part of their candidate evaluation process. Be careful of what your child publishes TODAY online as this may endure for ever on the internet.
- BYRON REPORT 2008 – the report discovered children frequently act out of character on the internet. In the absence of usual cues of facial expression and tone of voice, it seems that people (and mainly young people) often alter their moral code perhaps doing and saying things that are out of character. In short people are much more likely to lie, deceive or behave with less inhibition online that face to face.
- TEXT MESSAGING – your role as parents is to train your kids in the appropriate ways to send texts: “Ask yourself before you send a text, e-mail, or post — Is the message RIGHT? Read the message to be sure it sounds OK. And imagine if you received it…would it be hurtful or upsetting to you?” Once an inappropriate message is sent, the damage has been done…there is no retraction of words as the evidence is there in black and white for all to see.
The subject is vast …if you want to know more register for our intensive workshop on the whole area of screens and internet safety on:
Wednesday 10th November 10-12.30pm at The Parent Practice in Clapham SW London
How safe is your child or teenager on the computer?
17/10/2010 No Comments
Reading is the gateway to the world of information and creativity. There are many ways we can help our children develop a love of reading right from the beginning, and to keep their interest as they progress. Most research on reading agrees that the most important part is how the child FEELS about reading, and positive reinforcement and association really helps.
Start any reading session with a positive comment – not simply “well done” or “clever boy” but praise something in the way your child read last time. Perhaps how they persevered with the difficult words, and tried hard to sound out each word clearly, or how they remembered the punctuation marks, or put some expression in. You could also praise how calmly they came to read, or how consistent they have been remembering to bring their story home, or simply how much you love spending time with them.
When it’s getting tough, try to keep positive. Empathise with your child just how hard it is to read, particularly if everyone else seems to be finding it easy. Take a break, get a glass of water, run around the garden, jump up and down, and come back again a little later. You may find it easier to keep calm and be patient if you have something to do with your hands, like knitting….
It can also help a struggling reader to have some privacy, particularly from annoying or smug siblings. And even if they are finding reading hard, there is always something they are doing right. Look for small things that they are succeeding at, and point them out to the child.
Here are a few practical ideas that you may find helpful.
- 1. Make reading comfortable and special.
- Try to make sure the place you reading in is quiet, and warm, well lit, and generally comfortable.
- Create a special place for your child’s books – decorate a box, or shelf – or a personalised nameplate for their own books.
2. Bring reading and stories into everyday life.
- Read books in front of them and talk about what you have read recently, or stories you remember from your childhood. Teel them what you like about your books and ask their thoughts or opinions about the stories they are reading. Discuss the ideas or themes within the stories. Sometimes you can pause as they’re reading to ask what they think will happen next or why the characters acted as they did or what they would have done in that situation. You want to encourage interest in the story rather than just focusing on the mechanics of reading.
- Encourage them to read road signs, games manuals, instructions, recipes, menus, magazines, backs of cereal packets, even internet pages on a topic that interests them.
- Look out for topical stories – at Christmas or Easter time, or about the seaside in the summer, or places you have been or are going, or to do with particular events, such as the World Cup or the Olympics.
3. Make reading interesting and fun.
- Try having a Story Tea or Story Bath, or make a Reading Den or try reading in your bed on Sunday morning, as a special treat.
- Take a book to the park, read with a torch, or read as a family with each member taking turns or parts. (Remember, children can “read” more complex stories in groups, than they can on their own.”)
- Let yourself go when you are reading out loud – use lots of expression, in your voice and in your face and body too. Try some sound effects – they will either love it or tell you to calm down. You could even go for costumes….
- Make up quizzes, crosswords, wordsearches or anagrams of characters, or places, in familiar and favourite stories.
- Personalize the stories using their names.
4. Encourage their creativity and imagination.
- When reading familiar stories, leave gaps for them to fill in or make up alternative silly versions.
- Help them write their own stories, with spaces for pictures, using a laptop and printer to “publish” copies and distribute to family members.
5. Get lots of books.
- Use the library – most libraries let children take out many books at a time, and often there are no late return fees. Books can be renewed on-line and particular stories ordered for collection. Schedule a regular library trip, and let them choose some of their own stories, as well as those you think they will like, and try talking to the librarian to find out what’s new or particularly popular. Take out books for yourself too.
- Give a book allowance –it doesn’t have to be big and can be part of, or additional to, any pocket money.
- Give subscriptions to a magazine as a birthday present or special treat – there are so many to choose from. Receiving a named copy of a magazine in the post is exciting for children!
By Juliet Richards
11/10/2010 No Comments
The Parent Practice Media Press Release
10.10.10. is the launch date of The Parent Practice Media
“GET THE BEST PERFORMANCE FROM YOUR STAFF BY HELPING THEM BE BETTER PARENTS”…says The Parent Practice Media
The Parent Practice Media – a unique and ground-breaking training service to the Media and Communications industry is being launched this week by executive search & selection firm The Stevens Company and The Parent Practice.
In these financially lean times fewer people are being employed in the media and communications industry and the increased complexity of work means the pressure to perform in the workplace has never been greater. Parental guilt is rife within the media industry due to the long working hours and high-pressure environments. In two thirds of families both parents work and many people working in the media confess to spending a significant amount of time worrying about home life issues during working hours. Add to this the increased number of challenges of parenthood brought about by the modern day child’s relationship with the internet, social networking, celebrity culture, electronic games and competitive schooling it is apparent that the time is right to help working media parents be the best they can be at home for their children and at work for their employers. Hence the idea for The Parent Practice Media was born.
The two companies will work together to provide positive parenting courses, workshops, consultations, advice and on-going support for working media parents and their employers. The courses are also available to other individuals involved in the care of children.
Melissa Hood founded The Parent Practice (TPP) in 2004. The organisation has an outstanding record of teaching positive and practical skills and strategies to thousands of parents and carers facing the daily challenges of raising children. The work is carried out in TPP’s 4 London centres, in schools, children’s centres and companies across the UK. The practice works directly with over 250 families annually and over 5000 people have walked through their doors since inception.
”The Parent Practice Course literally changed my thinking about what children need from their parents and what parents and families can gain from some very straightforward and hugely influential skills. It helped me to understand my child better and my reactions to him’ Francesca Grade, mother of one.
Linda Stevens founded The Stevens Company in 1989 and has raised three children as well as creating one of the most successful media recruitment companies of the last two decades.
”Trying to juggle a full-time senior media role with children is tough and can sometimes become an impossibility, so to have advice, insight and support from professional practitioners can only be helpful and at times a lifeline. By re-directing your energies into your daily job a commercial output will definitely be delivered” Linda Smith, Executive Chairwoman, Radio Advertising Bureau and mother of three
”Raising children is probably the most challenging job you will ever do, holding down a job in media is probably the second; we aim to help with both” The Parent Practice MediaThe Parent Practice Media Press Release 7 10 2010 final version
For more information please visit our website www.theparentpractice.com or call Linda Stevens on 020 7228 1211/07775 784340 or Elaine Halligan on 020 8673 3444/07752 347817
10/10/2010 No Comments